Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Vagabonding

I wanted to like Vagabonding by Rolf Potts even before I started reading it - it's wonderfully skinny. And fortunately, the text lived up to the promise of such a slim volume. As travel-howto style books, this has to be one of the best I've ever read.

First off, the book is fundamentally optimistic. Want to travel the world? Excellent - you don't have to wait till some far off milestone to do so, you can do it now! (OK, well, maybe you'll need a few months of prep - but still, travel isn't a far off dream).

Next up, the book tries to help you capture what's important about travel - things like beauty and adventure. And as I've learned through the years, and as the book underscores, these aren't necessarily found where the brochures point you to.

Finally, I love the lessons of simplicity emphasized in the book. For example, the entire packing list for a multi-month trip is outlined in a single paragraph of prose. It's beautiful.

Perhaps, most surprisingly, I found that this book didn't give me the long term travel bug. I was expecting that I'd long for a 3 month trek through Asia. But alas, I found myself quite content to either apply advice to my relatively short trips, or enjoyed reading it from an armchair adventure perspective.

In many respects, author has you covered in this department too. As he explains, the principles that work for long term travel can work in your own home town. And I believe he's absolutely right. Within an hours drive there are no doubt breathtaking views, colorful natives and untapped adventures. One only need to take the time to seek them out.

This may be the most valuable point in the whole book.

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